Thursday, December 31, 2009


Today is the last day to comment on the draft environmental imact statement that would allow for water fraccing of gas in the Marcellus Shale. Fracing would, imho, impact negatively (contaminate) the underground water resources, besides impacting air quality by the release of methane and particulate matter. I urge everyone to do some reading (Julie has given me some resources which I will paste below) and write an e-mail to the governor and to DEC. Their e-mail addresses are governor and both need to have dSGEIS Comment in the subject line. A short but to the point note would work.

DEC's professional staff calls for moratorium:

A rally and press conference are planned for January 4th On the Steps of City Hall, NYC, calling on Gov. Paterson to withdraw DEC's draft SGEIS as fatally-flawed and incomplete. Environmental orgs, individuals and numerous NY politicians will attend. I'll send details shortly.

Here are a couple of helpful news stories:
Damning water, waste facts:
10,000 public comments submitted to DEC:
and from today's NYT

DEC's professional staff calls for moratorium:

A rally and press conference are planned for January 4th in Albany, calling on Gov. Paterson to withdraw DEC's draft SGEIS as fatally-flawed and incomplete. Environmental orgs, individuals and numerous NY politicians will attend. I'll send details shortly.

Here are a couple of helpful news stories:
Damning water, waste facts:
10,000 public comments submitted to DEC:

Friday, December 25, 2009

A New Year's wish

May all promises--large and small--be kept in 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pop Culture

Pop culture is not too feminist:

In the latest vampire loving film New Moon the "replacement boyfriend" Jacob is a member of the Quilete native Americans. Unfortunately, when he is angered he turns into a werewolf capable of (spoiler alert) mauling the one he loves, like his friend did. He blames it on genetics. Unfortunately in real life, Native American women are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse--64% of Native American women will be abused in their life (, not because of genetics, buit because of men's low self esteem and anger due to drugs, alcohol, poverty, discrimination. . . .

A Canadian poli sci professer analyzed Thomas the Train, the 1943 story that is still going strong. There is a very conservative story line within, replete with sexism, fearmongering, and conformity. ( ).

A tip of my hat to and, if you do not link to you should!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Trading Women's Rights

From Today's NYT the politics of the passage of the House's health deform bill: on the back's of women.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I was only number 94 (out of about 350 possible voters) at my polling place an hour ago...

Monday, October 19, 2009

DV & Monserrate


NEWS FROM STATE SENATOR LIZ KRUEGER New York State Senate, 26th District STATEMENT FROM SENATOR LIZ KRUEGER IN RESPONSE TO HIRAM MONSERRATE’S CONVICTION "I believe Hiram Monserrate should not remain in the Senate, and for the sake of his constituents, the institution of the Senate and the Democratic party he should resign immediately based on the seriousness of his violent crime. Being an elected official is an honor and a privilege, not a right. As a state legislator , the voters give you the power to decide what laws all 19 million of us live under. And as such we are obligated to hold ourselves to the highest standards of our laws. The justice system has determined that Mr. Monserrate has violated our laws and is guilty of a very disturbing and violent crime against a woman. Domestic violence is a scourge on our society, and an issue which I believe requires us to speak out. Only through speaking out can we work to prevent more violence, support survivors, end the stigma and fear that victims deal with, and advocate for stronger penalties for those who believe they are above the law and violate another human being. The Senate is exploring our institutional legal options now that the Courts have ruled, but haven’t yet issued a sentence. For me, the length of the sentence does not matter – domestic violence is domestic violence, guilt is guilt. Therefore, I believe Hiram Monserrate should not remain in the Senate."

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

MIA: Real Health Care Reform

Health care reform should be to help people not companies --real health care reform that would * help those who get denied insurance--such as victims of domestic abuse (see;
* the public option necessary for many with chronic health care issues such as HIV & AIDS (see;
*health care reform would not include drive by major operations (its not take two breasts and call me in the morning);
* health care reform would cover all people--using the ER as a clinic is very expensive:
*health care should not cause foreclosures;
* health care insurance should be disconnected people's jobs--it keeps people hostage to jobs.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Questions raised by Roman Polanski's (re-) arrest:
Is a rape a rape when committed years ago? Is a rape a rape when the rapist is reknowned? Is a rape a rape when the raped is a 13 year old seductress? Is a rape a rape when the victim says move on? Is the crime of rape a crime against the state? Is a rape a rape, and always a rape?

And, Don't get me started on Letterman. . .

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Women's Autonomy & the Healthcare proposal

Once again, women's healthcare is being compromised--a woman's body is her body--regardless of class or income: decisions about it should be made by her, and when it comes to health/medical issues by her doctor. The current health care proposal being tauted by Republicans and anti-choice Democrats basically says that anyone one who might get federal subsidies that would allow them to buy their health care, can NOT purchase a health insurance plan that covers abortions.

Abortions are legal, there are many reasons why women seek/need to have this medical procedure done, Women need to be able to make ALL their own health care decisions.

I wonder if these health care proposals that disallow for elective abortions allow for Viagra and its ilk, breast implants or even all forms of birth control --want to limit the number of abortions, provide adequate, easily available birth control and sex education!

Today's NYT editorial on Abortion & Healthcare:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

51% of the People Living in America

Need health care reform and we need it NOW!

Based on an in depth report by The National Women's Law Center (NWLC) has found that:

NWLC found that the individual insurance market is a very difficult place
for women to buy health coverage. Insurance companies can refuse to sell women coverage altogether due to a history of any health problems, or charge women higher premiums based on factors such as their gender, age and health status. This coverage is often very costly and limited in scope—and it often fails to meet women’s needs.
Besides making it difficult and more expensive for women to find maternity coverage it seems that having been a victim of domestic violence in some states also precludes women from health care insurance:

Insurance companies can reject applicants for health coverage for a variety of
reasons that are particularly relevant to women. For example, it is still legal in nine states
and D.C. for insurers to reject applicants who are survivors of domestic violence. Insurers can
also reject women for coverage simply for having previously had a Cesarean section (C-section).
For the Full Report PDF:

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Women's Equality Day

Today is Women's Equality Day designated by Congress in 1971 (thanks to Congresswoman Bella Abzug) to commerate the passing of the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution --the Woman Suffrage Ammendment--which gave American women full voting rights in 1920.

And, there is still much more to do to achieve full equality for women. . .

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Women's Liberation 21st Century Style

Nicholas Kristof writes:
"IN THE 19TH CENTURY, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape. "
To continue reading...from the August 23rd NYT Magazine

Friday, August 14, 2009

Raise your voices!

". . .it is far from clear how much of the vocal opposition to reform represents wider popular feeling and how much is a mobile mob of gun nuts, birthers and teabaggers paid for and organized by lobbyists and Republican outfits like Americans for Prosperity, Conservatives for Patients' Rights and FreedomWorks. Several polls show a majority of Americans still want reform. But polls don't mean much politically if everyone stays quiet." (italics are mine)
Katha Pollitt on Healthcare:

If healthcare is reformed:

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Targeting Women, II

Bob Herbert's Column today "Women at Risk" talks about "the deadly mix of misogyny and guns."
"We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected. . ." He writes". . .Life in the United States is mind-bogglingly violent. . .[women and girls] are attacked because they are female."
Herbert touches on not only the Pennsylvanian gym killings, the Amish school killings but also the Virginia Tech killings. He also mentions the pornography industry, battered wives and girlfriends, and attacks against women in our armed services. An expert he interviews says that most of the attacks are based on the attackers trying to regain or prove their manhood, and committing a violent act is one way.

Herbert concludes noting the we need to "acknowledge that misogyny is a serious and pervasive problem. . .combined with absurdly easy availability of guns, is a toxic mix of the most tragic proportions."

We need better gun control laws and gun safety laws.
We need to teach our children that violence is not the appropriate response to anger or frustration.
We need to see and treat women and girls as equals.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Targeting Women

The recent shooting in Pennsylvania targetted women. Can we say misogyny? Yet, the main stream media is not focussing on this aspect, just on the shooter's sad life.
It seems Bob Herbert noted (Oct 16, 2006 after the shooting at the Amish School) that the media and society does not focus on misogyny because as he stated "The disrespectful, degrading, contemptuous treatment of women is so pervasive and so mainstream that it has just about lost its ability to shock."
The only article I have found that actually defines misogyny in connection with this shooting is in the Christian Science Monitor,

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Congrats on Associate Justice #111

Congratulations to Justice Sottomayer!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Euphemisms for Strong Woman

First, Senator Graham predicted that Judge Sottomayor would be confirmed unless she had a "meltdown." Was that a euphemism for unless she acted like an emotional, hysterical woman?

And, yesterday Senator Graham said that anonymous lawyers who had appeared before her had said she was "temperamental" "a bully" "nasty" and "difficult and challenging." These I believe are euphemisms for being a professional and strong woman who is not maternal-acting on the job.

Many women, in many professions encounter the same euphemisms cum criticisms if they are strong, rational, fair.

Studies have shown that women are perceived as maternal, emotional while men are paternal and rational. Women are supposed to be accessible and accepting of all excuses, men are busy (not always accessible) and firm.

There is much work done on gender bias in evaluations. The bias may be subtle-- but it is significant, and leads to the entrenching of a double standard.

The most recent study was reported out in Newsweek (6/25/09):

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Place on the Bench

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the place on the Bench for women:

Here is a website to follow for Sotomayer's confirmation hearings: The Thinking Women's Guide to the Supreme Court Hearings, published by the National Women's Law Center

Friday, July 3, 2009

On Burqas and Liberty

Hardly any women in France wear burqas, but like habjib (see Joan W. Scott's book The Politics of the Veil), these coverings are seen as symbols of women's oppression.

This begs the questions: What is the relationship of religion and women? Religion and oppression?

In yesterday's NYT there was an article about the Vatican conducting two investigations of American Nuns who the Vatican thinks have become too modern and involved in the real world.
These nuns are no longer "“promot[ing]” the church’s teachings on three issues: the male-only priesthood, homosexuality and the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church as the means to salvation. " But these "American nuns stopped wearing religious habits, left convents to live independently and went into new lines of work: academia and other professions, social and political advocacy and grass-roots organizations that serve the poor or promote spirituality. A few nuns have also been active in organizations that advocate changes in the church like ordaining women and married men as priests. "

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Government's Failure to Prevent Harm

There is a very important yet little talked about Supreme Court case decided a few years back: Castle Rock v Gonzales [ 545 U.S. 748 (2005)]. Jessica Gonzales had a restraining order/an order of protection against her (ex) husband Simon. One evening he abducted their three daughters, and though she called the Castle Rock (Colorado) police repeatedly over the course of the evening to enforce the order, nothing was done. Simon committed death by police, and the police found the bodies of the 3 girls in his truck.
The Supreme Court's opinion written by Scalia basically said that enforcement of a restraining order was not mandatory under Colorado law. This is just one of a series of decisions that state that the government's role to prevent harm is not an entitlement, and its failure to act to prevent harm is within their exercise of (administrative) discretion.
You may also want to read Kristian Miccio's article cogent article on this case, and the future of domestic violence/battering movement . Miccio teaches at Sturm School of Law (she taught at SUNY New Paltz prior).

The question now posed is: what now? Is the Domestic Violence Movement now toothless? How do we protect abused women? How do we hold our government responsible?

Jessica Gonzales brought her case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIM). The CIM heard her testimony in November 2008 and January of this year, and are suppose to rule by year's end.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


In today's NYT there is an article on
"Customer Bias in Favor of White Men."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Say What????

Somehow I don't believe we are post-feminist quite yet....there is still way too much to do to reach equality! Yet, feminism/feminists have a bad reputation (thanks to Rush, et al) so many people do not call themselves feminists, even though they believe in feminist ideals and goals.
What do you all think?

CNN has an article posted re: is Feminism Obsolete

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Maloney v Gillibrand

In today's NYT, Gail Collins takes a look at the potential senatorial primary race between Kirsten Gillibrand and Carolyn Maloney.

Collins raises some interesting questions:
What do we want in our legislators: strong principles or our principles?
How do we (want to ) reward hardworking legislators--with re-election so that they may continue their good work, or with a promotion where basically they have to start over?

The third question she raises: should the president have a voice in this process, or do we care I believe is a red herring: can we say "coattails" or "endorsements" or "campaign politics as usual" ? Because Obama has already weighed in on this, and in doing so slighted Maloney because he had Biden ask her not to run, while he, himself called on Steve Israel to ask the same.

Monday, June 8, 2009

An excellent letter in support of Judge Sottomayor

From today's NYT letter To the Editor:
Women and minorities have suffered a long history of legal and other decisions, made predominantly by white men, that disenfranchised them, kept them underpaid and denied them access to many educational and job opportunities. Those white men probably thought that their decisions were based on objective facts rather than their particular perspectives.
Not only do male justices need to hear the perspectives of women, particularly women of color, but they and those who confirm them also need to recognize that white men — like everyone — have perspectives informed by race and gender.
When Justice Stephen G. Breyer brings his youthful locker-room recollections into discussion of a case about strip-searching a young woman, who among his male colleagues (or those men who confirmed him) is disturbed that he is calling upon a gender-based experience?
We should be more concerned that a woman’s perspective may not be heard, even when a woman is present. When Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says that her comments are sometimes ignored in the group of male justices until someone else makes the same point, she is reporting the experience of countless lone women in male groups. I detailed this experience in a study I co-wrote on “Critical Mass on Corporate Boards: Why Three or More Women Enhance Governance” (Wellesley Centers for Women, 2006).
I have no doubt that putting a second woman back on the court would have the same beneficial effect as adding a second woman to a corporate board, and that a third would be even better for the operation of justice.
Vicki W. Kramer Philadelphia, June 5, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Why we need more feminists on the bench

The Supreme Court decided that women who have had maternity/family leave are not entitled to any accounting of that time towards their pension, if that leave pre-dated the Pregnancy and Disability Act. (At&T Corp V Hulteen (No. 07-543) 498 F. 3d 1001)

Once again, Justice Ginsberg dissents (joined by Justice Breyer).

Below is her dissenting opinion---

[May 18, 2009]
In General Elec. Co. v. Gilbert, 429 U. S. 125 (1976), this
Court held that a classification harmful to women based
on pregnancy did not qualify as discrimination “because of
. . . sex” prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964. 42 U. S. C. §2000e–2(a)(1). Exclusion of pregnancy
from an employer’s disability benefits plan, the Court
ruled, “is not a gender-based discrimination at all.” 429
U. S., at 136. See also id., at 138 (describing G. E.’s plan
as “facially nondiscriminatory” and without “any genderbased
discriminatory effect”).1 In dissent, JUSTICE
STEVENS wondered how the Court could come to that
conclusion, for “it is the capacity to become pregnant
which primarily differentiates the female from the male.”
Id., at 162.
Prior to Gilbert, all Federal Courts of Appeals presented
1 The Court’s opinion in Gilbert extended to Title VII reasoning earlier
advanced in Geduldig v. Aiello, 417 U. S. 484 (1974). In that case,
the Court upheld against an equal protection challenge California’s
disability insurance system, which excluded coverage for disabilities
occasioned by normal pregnancy. California’s system, the Court noted,
did not divide workers according to their sex; instead, it “divide[d]
potential recipients into two groups—pregnant women and nonpregnant
persons.” Id., at 496–497, n. 20.
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
with the question had determined that pregnancy discrimination
violated Title VII.2 Guidelines issued in 1972
by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC or Commission) declared that disadvantageous
classifications of employees based on pregnancy-related
conditions are “in prima facie violation of Title VII.” 37
Fed. Reg. 6837 (1972). In terms closely resembling the
EEOC’s current Guideline, see 29 CFR §1604.10 (2008),
the Commission counseled:
“Written and unwritten employment policies and
practices involving . . . the accrual of seniority and
other benefits and privileges . . . shall be applied to
disability due to pregnancy or childbirth on the same
terms and conditions as they are applied to other
temporary disabilities.” 37 Fed. Reg. 6837.
The history of women in the paid labor force underpinned
and corroborated the views of the lower courts and the
2 See Communications Workers of America v. AT&T Co., Long Lines
Dept., 513 F. 2d 1024 (CA2 1975); Wetzel v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 511 F.
2d 199 (CA3 1975), vacated on other grounds and remanded, 424 U. S.
737 (1976); Gilbert v. General Elec. Co., 519 F. 2d 661 (CA4 1975), rev’d,
429 U. S. 125 (1976); Satty v. Nashville Gas Co., 522 F. 2d 850 (CA6
1975), aff’d in part, vacated in part, and remanded, 434 U. S. 136
(1977); Holthaus v. Compton & Sons, Inc. 514 F. 2d 651 (CA8 1975);
Berg v. Richmond Unified School Dist., 528 F. 2d 1208 (CA9 1975);
Hutchison v. Lake Oswego School Dist. No. 7, 519 F. 2d 961 (CA9 1975).
For decisions under state human rights laws to the same effect, see,
e.g., Brooklyn Union Gas Co. v. New York State Human Rights Appeal
Bd., 41 N. Y. 2d 84, 359 N. E. 2d 393 (1976); Anderson v. Upper Bucks
Cty. Area Vocational Technical School, 30 Pa. Commw. 103, 373 A. 2d
126 (1977); Quaker Oats Co. v. Cedar Rapids Human Rights Comm’n,
268 N. W. 2d 862 (Iowa 1978); Massachusetts Elec. Co. v. Massachusetts
Comm’n Against Discrimination, 375 Mass. 160, 375 N. E. 2d 1192
(1978); Minnesota Min. & Mfg. Co. v. State, 289 N. W. 2d 396 (Minn.
1979); Michigan Dept. of Civil Rights ex rel. Jones v. Michigan Dept. of
Civil Serv., 101 Mich. App. 295, 301 N. W. 2d 12 (1980); Badih v. Myers,
36 Cal. App. 4th 1289, 43 Cal. Rptr. 2d 229 (1995).
Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009) 3
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
EEOC. In generations preceding—and lingering long
after—the passage of Title VII, that history demonstrates,
societal attitudes about pregnancy and motherhood severely
impeded women’s employment opportunities. See
Molnar, “Has the Millennium Yet Dawned?”: A History of
Attitudes Toward Pregnant Workers in America, 12 Mich.
J. Gender & L. 163, 170–176 (2005); S. Kamerman, A.
Kahn, & P. Kingston, Maternity Policies and Working
Women 32–38 (1983).
Congress swiftly reacted to the Gilbert decision. Less
than two years after the Court’s ruling, Congress passed
the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA) to overturn
Gilbert and make plain the legislators’ clear understanding
that discrimination based on pregnancy is discrimination
against women.3 The Act amended Title VII
to require that women affected by pregnancy “be treated
the same for all employment-related purposes, including
receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as other
persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability
to work.” 42 U. S. C. §2000e(k).
The PDA does not require redress for past discrimination.
It does not oblige employers to make women whole
for the compensation denied them when, prior to the Act,
they were placed on pregnancy leave, often while still
ready, willing, and able to work, and with no secure right
to return to their jobs after childbirth.4 But the PDA does
3 See, e.g., H. R. Rep. No. 95–948, p. 3 (1978) (“[T]he assumption that
women will become pregnant and leave the labor force . . . is at the root
of the discriminatory practices which keep women in low-paying and
dead-end jobs.”).
4 For examples of once prevalent restrictions, see Turner v. Utah
Dept. of Employment Security, 423 U. S. 44 (1975) (per curiam) (state
statute made pregnant women ineligible for unemployment benefits for
a period extending from 12 weeks before the expected date of childbirth
until six weeks after childbirth); Cleveland Bd. of Ed. v. LaFleur, 414
U. S. 632, 634–635 (1974) (school board rule forced pregnant public
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
protect women, from and after April 1979, when the Act
became fully effective, against repetition or continuation of
pregnancy-based disadvantageous treatment.
Congress interred Gilbert more than 30 years ago, but
the Court today allows that wrong decision still to hold
sway. The plaintiffs (now respondents) in this action will
receive, for the rest of their lives, lower pension benefits
than colleagues who worked for AT&T no longer than they
did. They will experience this discrimination not simply
because of the adverse action to which they were subjected
pre-PDA. Rather, they are harmed today because AT&T
has refused fully to heed the PDA’s core command: Hereafter,
for “all employment-related purposes,” disadvantageous
treatment “on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or
related medical conditions” must cease. 42 U. S. C.
§2000e(k) (emphasis added). I would hold that AT&T
committed a current violation of Title VII when, post-PDA,
it did not totally discontinue reliance upon a pension
calculation premised on the notion that pregnancy-based
classifications display no gender bias.
Enacted as an addition to the section defining terms
used in Title VII, the PDA provides:
“The terms ‘because of sex’ or ‘on the basis of sex’
include, but are not limited to, because of or on the
basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions;
and women affected by pregnancy, childbirth,
or related medical conditions shall be treated the
same for all employment-related purposes, including
school teachers to take unpaid maternity leave five months before the
expected date of childbirth, with no guarantee of re-employment). Cf.
Nevada Dept. of Human Resources v. Hibbs, 538 U. S. 721, 736–737
(2003) (sex discrimination, Congress recognized, is rooted, primarily, in
stereotypes about “women when they are mothers or mothers-to-be”
(internal quotation marks omitted)).
Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009) 5
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs, as
other persons not so affected but similar in their ability
or inability to work . . . .” 42 U. S. C. §2000e(k).
The text of the Act, this Court has acknowledged, “unambiguously
expressed [Congress’] disapproval of both the
holding and the reasoning of the Court in the Gilbert
decision.” Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. v.
EEOC, 462 U. S. 669, 678 (1983). “Proponents of the
[PDA],” the Court observed, “repeatedly emphasized that
the Supreme Court had erroneously interpreted congressional
intent and that amending legislation was necessary
to reestablish the principles of Title VII law as they had
been understood prior to the Gilbert decision.” Id., at 679.
See also California Fed. Sav. & Loan Assn. v. Guerra, 479
U. S. 272, 284–285 (1987) (explaining that “the first clause
of the PDA reflects Congress’ disapproval of the reasoning
in Gilbert,” while “the second clause . . . illustrate[s] how
discrimination against pregnancy is to be remedied”). Cf.
Newport News, 462 U. S., at 694 (Rehnquist, J., dissenting)
(criticizing the Court for concluding that the PDA
“renders all of Gilbert obsolete”).
Today’s case presents a question of time. As the Court
comprehends the PDA, even after the effective date of the
Act, lower pension benefits perpetually can be paid to
women whose pregnancy leaves predated the PDA. As to
those women, the Court reasons, the disadvantageous
treatment remains as Gilbert declared it to be: “facially
nondiscriminatory,” and without “any gender-based discriminatory
effect,” 429 U. S., at 138. See ante, at 8.
There is another way to read the PDA, one better attuned
to Congress’ “unambiguou[s] . . . disapproval of both
the holding and the reasoning” in Gilbert. Newport News,
462 U. S., at 678. On this reading, the Act calls for an
immediate end to any pretense that classification on the
basis of pregnancy can be “facially nondiscriminatory.”
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
While the PDA does not reach back to redress discrimination
women encountered before Congress overruled Gilbert,
the Act instructs employers forthwith to cease and
desist: From and after the PDA’s effective date, classifications
treating pregnancy disadvantageously must be
recognized, “for all employment-related purposes,” including
pension payments, as discriminatory both on their face
and in their impact. So comprehended, the PDA requires
AT&T to pay Noreen Hulteen and others similarly
situated pension benefits untainted by pregnancy-based
The Court’s rejection of plaintiffs’ claims to pension
benefits undiminished by discrimination “because of
[their] sex,” 42 U. S. C. §2000e–2(h), centers on §703(h) of
Title VII, as construed by this Court in Teamsters v.
United States, 431 U. S. 324 (1977). See ante, at 4–8.
Section 703(h) permits employers “to apply different standards
of compensation . . . pursuant to a bona fide seniority
. . . system.” 42 U. S. C. §2000e–2(h). Congress enacted
§703(h), Teamsters explained, to “exten[d] a measure
of immunity” to seniority systems even when they “operate
to ‘freeze’ the status quo of prior discriminatory employment
practices.” 431 U. S., at 350 (quoting Griggs v. Duke
Power Co., 401 U. S. 424, 430 (1971)).
Teamsters involved a seniority system attacked under
Title VII as perpetuating race-based discrimination.
Minority group members ranked low on the seniority list
because, pre-Title VII, they were locked out of the job
category in question. But the seniority system itself, the
Court reasoned, “did not have its genesis in . . . discrimination,”
contained no discriminatory terms, and applied
“equally to all races and ethnic groups,” 431 U. S., at 355–
356. Therefore, the Court concluded, §703(h) sheltered the
system despite its adverse impact on minority group
Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009) 7
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
members only recently hired for, or allowed to transfer
into, more desirable jobs. See id., at 356.
This case differs from Teamsters because AT&T’s seniority
system itself was infected by an overt differential. Cf.
ante, at 8 (“[R]ule of differential treatment was an element
of the seniority system itself . . . .”). One could scarcely
maintain that AT&T’s scheme was “neutral on [its] face
and in intent,” discriminating against women only “in
effect.” Cf. Teamsters, 431 U. S., at 349. Surely not a
term fairly described as “equally [applicable] to all,” id., at
355, AT&T’s prescription regarding pregnancy leave
would gain no immunity under §703(h) but for this Court’s
astonishing declaration in Gilbert: “[E]xclusion of pregnancy
from a disability-benefits plan providing general
coverage,” the Court decreed, “[was] not a gender-based
discrimination at all.” 429 U. S., at 136. See ante, at 8
(because of Gilbert, AT&T’s disadvantageous treatment of
pregnancy leave “did not taint the system under the terms
of [§703(h)]”).
Were the PDA an ordinary instance of legislative revision
by Congress in response to this Court’s construction
of a statutory text, I would not dissent from today’s decision.
But Congress made plain its view that Gilbert was
not simply wrong about the character of a classification
that treats leave necessitated by pregnancy and childbirth
disadvantageously. In disregarding the opinions of other
courts, see supra, at 2, n. 2, of the agency that superintends
enforcement of Title VII, see supra, at 2,5 and, most
5 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) current
Compliance Manual counsels: “While the denial of service credit to
women on maternity leave was not unlawful when [the charging party]
took her leave . . . , the employer’s decision to incorporate that denial of
service credit in calculating seniority [post-PDA] is discriminatory.” 2
EEOC Compliance Manual §3, p. 627:0023 (effective Oct. 3, 2000).
EEOC compliance manuals, this Court has recognized, “reflect ‘a body
of experience and informed judgment to which courts and litigants may
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
fundamentally, the root cause of discrimination against
women in the paid labor force, this Court erred egregiously.
Congress did not provide a remedy for pregnancybased
discrimination already experienced before the PDA
became effective. I am persuaded by the Act’s text and
legislative history, however, that Congress intended no
continuing reduction of women’s compensation, pension
benefits included, attributable to their placement on pregnancy
A few further considerations influence my dissenting
view. Seeking equal treatment only from and after the
PDA’s effective date, plaintiffs present modest claims. As
the Court observes, they seek service credit, for pension
benefit purposes, for the periods of their pregnancy leaves.
For the named plaintiffs, whose claims are typical, the
uncounted leave days are these: “seven months . . . for
Noreen Hulteen; about six months for Eleanora Collet;
and about two for Elizabeth Snyder and Linda Porter.”
Ante, at 3. See also 498 F. 3d 1001, 1004 (CA9 2007) (en
banc) (case below). Their demands can be met without
disturbing settled expectations of other workers, the core
concern underlying the shelter §703(h) provides for seniority
systems. See Franks v. Bowman Transp. Co., 424 U. S.
747, 766, 773, and n. 33 (1976) (“ ‘benefit’ seniority,” unlike
“ ‘competitive status’ seniority,” does not conflict with
economic interests of other employees).
Furthermore, as Judge Rymer explained in her opinion
dissenting from the Ninth Circuit’s initial panel opinion,
441 F. 3d 653, 665–666 (2006), the relief plaintiffs request
is not retroactive in character. Plaintiffs request no backpay
or other compensation for past injury. They seek
properly resort for guidance.’ ” Federal Express Corp. v. Holowecki, 552
U. S. ___, ___ (2008) (slip op., at 8) (quoting Bragdon v. Abbott, 524
U. S. 624, 642 (1998)).
Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009) 9
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
pension benefits, now and in the future, equal to the benefits
received by others employed for the same length of
time. The actionable conduct of which they complain is
AT&T’s denial of equal benefits to plaintiffs “in the post-
PDA world.” Id., at 667.
Nor does it appear that equal benefits for plaintiffs
during their retirement years would expose AT&T to an
excessive or unmanageable cost. The plaintiffs’ class is
not large; it comprises only women whose pregnancy
leaves predated April 29, 1979 and whose employment
continued long enough for their pensions to vest. The
periods of service involved are short—several weeks or
some months, not years. And the cost of equal treatment
would be spread out over many years, as eligible women
Certain attitudes about pregnancy and childbirth,
throughout human history, have sustained pervasive,
often law-sanctioned, restrictions on a woman’s place
among paid workers and active citizens. This Court so
recognized in Nevada Dept. of Human Resources v. Hibbs,
538 U. S. 721 (2003). Hibbs rejected challenges, under the
Eleventh and Fourteenth Amendments, to the Family and
Medical Leave Act of 1993, 107 Stat. 6, 29 U. S. C. §2601
et seq., as applied to state employees. The Court’s opinion
featured Congress’ recognition that,
“[h]istorically, denial or curtailment of women’s employment
opportunities has been traceable directly to
the pervasive presumption that women are mothers
first, and workers second. This prevailing ideology
about women’s roles has in turn justified discrimination
against women when they are mothers or mothers-
to-be.” Joint Hearing before the Subcommittee on
Labor-Management Relations and the Subcommittee
on Labor Standards of the House Committee on Edu10
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
cation and Labor, 99th Cong., 2d Sess., 100 (1986)
(quoted in Hibbs, 538 U. S., at 736).6
Several of our own decisions, the opinion in Hibbs acknowledged,
538 U. S., at 729, exemplified the once “prevailing
ideology.” As prime illustrations, the Court cited
Bradwell v. State, 16 Wall. 130 (1873);7 Muller v. Oregon,
208 U. S. 412 (1908);8 Goesaert v. Cleary, 335 U. S. 464
(1948);9 and Hoyt v. Florida, 368 U. S. 57 (1961).10 The
Hibbs opinion contrasted Muller, Goesaert, and Hoyt with
more recent opinions: Commencing in 1971, the Court had
shown increasing awareness that traditional sex-based
classifications confined or depressed women’s opportunities.
538 U. S., at 728–730. Representative of the
jurisprudential change, Hibbs cited Reed v. Reed, 404
U. S. 71 (1971);11 Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U. S. 677
6 See also H. R. Rep. No. 95–948, pp. 6–7 (“Women are still subject to
the stereotype that all women are marginal workers. Until a woman
passes the child-bearing age, she is viewed by employers as potentially
7 Bradwell upheld a State’s exclusion of women from the practice of
law. In an exorbitant concurring opinion, Justice Bradley wrote that
“the female sex [is] evidently unfi[t] . . . for many of the occupations of
civil life.” 16 Wall., at 141. He elaborated: “The paramount destiny
and mission of woman are to fulfil the noble and benign offices of wife
and mother. This is the law of the Creator.” Ibid.
8 Muller upheld a State’s hours-of-work limitation applicable to
women only. “[T]o preserve the strength and vigor of the race,” the
Court observed, “the physical well-being of woman becomes an object of
public interest and care.” 208 U. S., at 421. Cf. Automobile Workers v.
Johnson Controls, Inc., 499 U. S. 187, 211 (1991) (“Concern for a
woman’s existing or potential offspring historically has been the excuse
for denying women equal employment opportunities.”).
9 Goesaert upheld a state law prohibiting women from working as
bartenders (unless the woman’s husband or father owned the tavern).
10 Hoyt sustained a state law exempting all women from the obligation
to serve on juries.
11 Reed invalidated a state law that preferred males to females for
appointment as estate administrators.
Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009) 11
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
(1973);12 Craig v. Boren, 429 U. S. 190 (1976);13 and United
States v. Virginia, 518 U. S. 515 (1996).14
Gilbert is aberrational not simply because it placed
outside Title VII disadvantageous treatment of pregnancy
rooted in “stereotype-based beliefs about the allocation of
family duties,” Hibbs, 538 U. S., at 730; Gilbert also advanced
the strange notion that a benefits classification
excluding some women (“pregnant women”) is not sexbased
because other women are among the favored class
(“nonpregnant persons”).15 The very first Title VII sexdiscrimination
case heard by the Court, Phillips v. Martin
Marietta Corp., 400 U. S. 542 (1971) (per curiam), however,
rejected similar reasoning. At issue in Phillips was
an employer’s refusal to hire mothers of pre-school-age
children. Phillips yielded a per curiam opinion recognizing
that Title VII applies to classifications disadvantageous
to some, but not most, women. See, e.g., Phillips v.
Martin Marietta Corp., 416 F. 2d 1257, 1262 (CA5 1969)
(Brown, C. J., dissenting from denial of en banc review)
(“A mother is still a woman. And if she is denied work
outright because she is a mother, it is because she is a
woman. Congress said that could no longer be done.”);
Sprogis v. United Air Lines, Inc., 444 F. 2d 1194 (CA7)
12 Frontiero extended to married female members of the uniformed
services spousal benefits granted by statute automatically only to male
13 Craig held that young men were entitled to purchase 3.2% beer at
the same age as young women.
14 Virginia, the Court held, could not maintain the Virginia Military
Institute as an all-male college without offering women a genuinely
equal educational opportunity. For a fuller account of the Court’s
decisions on the constitutionality of gender-based classifications, see
Virginia, 518 U. S., at 531–534.
15 The terms “pregnant women” and “nonpregnant persons” first appeared
in Geduldig, 417 U. S., at 496–497, n. 20. See supra, at 1, n. 1.
Gilbert repeated the terms, quoting the footnote in Geduldig, 429 U. S.,
at 135.
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
(refusal to employ married women violates Title VII), cert.
denied, 404 U. S. 991 (1971).16
Grasping the connection Gilbert failed to make, a District
Court opinion pre-Gilbert, Wetzel v. Liberty Mut. Ins.
Co., 372 F. Supp. 1146 (WD Pa. 1974), published this deft
observation. In response to an employer’s argument that
its disadvantageous maternity leave and pregnancy disability
income protection policies were not based on sex,
the court commented: “[I]t might appear to the lay mind
that we are treading on the brink of a precipice of absurdity.
Perhaps the admonition of Professor Thomas Reed
Powell to his law students is apt; ‘If you can think of something
which is inextricably related to some other thing and
not think of the other thing, you have a legal mind.’ ” Id.,
at 1157.
Congress put the Court back on track in 1978 when it
amended Title VII to repudiate Gilbert’s holding and
reasoning. See Newport News, 462 U. S., at 678; California
Fed., 479 U. S., at 284–285; supra, at 4–5.17 Congress’
16 See also the EEOC’s Guideline, initially published in 1965, and now
codified in 29 CFR §1604.4:
“The Commission has determined that an employer’s rule which forbids
or restricts the employment of married women and which is not applicable
to married men is a discrimination based on sex prohibited by
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. It does not seem to us relevant that
the rule is not directed against all females, but only against married
females, for so long as sex is a factor in the application of the rule, such
application involves a discrimination based on sex.” 30 Fed. Reg. 14928
17 For critical commentary on Gilbert and its forerunner, Geduldig v.
Aiello, see, e.g., Bartlett, Pregnancy and the Constitution: The Uniqueness
Trap, 62 Calif. L. Rev. 1532, 1551–1566 (1974); Eskridge, America’s
Statutory “constitution,” 41 U. C. D. L. Rev. 1, 39–40, and n. 175
(2007); Karst, The Supreme Court 1976 Term Foreword: Equal Citizenship
Under the Fourteenth Amendment, 91 Harv. L. Rev. 1, 54, n. 304
(1977); Law, Rethinking Sex and the Constitution, 132 U. Pa. L. Rev.
955, 983–984, and nn. 107–109 (1984); Roelofs, Sex Discrimination and
Insurance Planning: The Rights of Pregnant Men and Women Under
Cite as: 556 U. S. ____ (2009) 13
GINSBURG, J., dissenting
swift and strong repudiation of Gilbert, the Court today
holds, does not warrant any redress for the plaintiffs in
this case. They must continue to experience the impact of
their employer’s discriminatory—but, for a short time,
Gilbert-blessed—plan. That outcome is far from inevitable.
It is at least reasonable to read the PDA to say, from
and after the effective date of the Act, no woman’s pension
payments are to be diminished by the pretense that pregnancy-
based discrimination displays no gender bias.
I would construe the Act to embrace plaintiffs’ complaint,
and would explicitly overrule Gilbert so that the
decision can generate no more mischief.
* * *
For the reasons stated, I would affirm the Ninth Circuit’s
General Electric Co. v. Gilbert, 22 St. Louis U. L. J. 101, 120–123
(1978); Schwartz, Equalizing Pregnancy: The Birth of a Super-Statute
33–57 (2005), (as visited May
14, 2009, and in Clerk of Court’s case file); Siegel, Reasoning from the
Body: A Historical Perspective on Abortion Regulation and Questions of
Equal Protection, 44 Stan. L. Rev. 261, 268–272 (1992); Siegel, You’ve
Come a Long Way, Baby: Rehnquist’s New Approach to Pregnancy
Discrimination in Hibbs, 58 Stan. L. Rev. 1871, 1873, 1878, 1891–1893
(2006); Taub & Williams, Will Equality Require More Than Assimilation,
Accommodation or Separation from the Existing Social Structure?,
37 Rutgers L. Rev. 825, 832–836 (1985).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Because of insurance payments mastectomies are drive thru operations. My double mastectomy was one, too. We actually decided NOT to have it done at Sloan because LK did not want to have to drive me home that day. Instead we had it done up here with Dr. El Eid (who is now in Las Vegas, lucky women there!). It too was scheduled as a drive by, but I had a reaction to the anesthesia so had to stay over night. (BTW, it took 4 days for the worst of the anesthesia side affects to wear off, and then except for the miles of tubing and canteen sized drains on each side, I was good to go).

My thoughts: If a male was losing a body part--be it a finger or a testicle, he would not be sent home within hours of the operation with drains to milk and measure...

Once again there is a bill in Congress to change this insurance rule...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Discounting Rape

Today's NYT column by Nicholas Kristof brings home the point that rape is NOT treated as a real or serious crime by most police departments. It is more than not trusting the victim--rape usually does not happen in public nor in front of witnesses--it is one of the police not following through on an investigation. It is a practice that discounts the victim--how credible is she? did she not do X, wear X*, and thus, the crime is discounted.

*there was a case where the alleged rapist said the woman was wearing something red and provocative. The woman was wearing her boyfriend's red track suit. . .

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Happy Equal Pay Day

Today is the day that marks when women workers have earned the equivalent of what male workers earned in 2008.

Monday, April 20, 2009


We do judge books by their covers, and therefore, short change many people and things.

1. A few years back I had a student who for her community service/praxis project went to pick apples for one of the local soup kitchens. She was taken aback, when the director told the pickers to choose apples that they would want to eat. What, my student thought, they should be grateful for any apple. But she learned the lesson that just because someone is poor, does not translate into treating them with less respect and dignity.

On Barbie & Beautiful Veggies:

2. And then there is the age-ism and lookism that once ruled the reality tv programs (and the music business) and now has rocked reality TV and its veiwers to their very core. Susan Boyle who is the average older woman who gets dis-regarded, dis-respected in society, until she opens her mouth to sing.
Just in case you are one of the very few who have not seen/heard:

Letty-Cottin Pogrebin's comment on Boyle, and age-ism:

Friday, March 27, 2009

Senator Gillibrand

Today's NYT's has an in depth look at the Senator's work as an associate assigned to the defend Phillip Morris & its executives at Davis Polk & Wardwell.
One should be aware that as an associate one does not pick nor decline assignments, especially if one wants to work at that firm.
Everyone (including corporations, since they have the standing as individuals) deserves to have good counsel--even rapists, murderers and the tobacco companies. For if their rights are not protected, it is a slippery slope to leaving others' rights unprotected.

While Gillibrand has accepted campaign contributions from tobacco monies, it appears that she is not in their pocket, so to speak: she has voted against their interests and for the public's interests.

Monday, March 9, 2009

White Paper

As discussed at tonight's meeting, let us use this blog to draft a white paper on Violence Against Women.
If you post a comment, facts (please cite references) we can all read it, and follow the thread...
I will try to be the compiler.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

International Women's Day

March 8th is International Women's Day...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Animal Abuse, Domestic Abuse

To be discussed at the 3/9 UCDW meeting are too very important and linked issues: Animal Abuse and Domestic Abuse (AKA Domestic Violence).

1st - Thanks to member Merle Borenstein who suggested we have a discussion of New York's animal cruelty laws and the need for increased penalties. On our behalf, Merle invited Patrick Kwan, NY Director of the Humane Society of the United States. He will tell us how NY compares with other states and answer YOUR questions at 7:30 PM. Kwan bio:
Magazine interview:

2. Then we will discuss ramifications of the horrific February 12 beheading murder of Aasiya Zubair Hassan , 37, by her husband in Buffalo. Mrs. Hassan had recently filed for a divorce and had an order of protection. Most early coverage was on the web or international. NY Times filed this story on 2/17:
Now, there is a great deal of coverage--just google. Here is NOW's release from 2/16

There are impediments to honest discussion of this crime as evidenced by the news coverage, which was tardy and timid. Laughter--yes, laughter--by pundits on TV about the details of the murder by curved sword that hung on the wall, and trivializing this murder by calling it domestic violence or an "honor killing" somehow bound up in religious freedom, only muddy the facts. This was a bloody murder of a woman by someone the police knew she was in fear of.

For discussion:
Do religious or cultural nuances play a role in discussing, understanding, condoning or trivializing violence? If so, is that legitimate? Do these considerations skew media coverage? Does calling violence within families "domestic violence" and "domestic abuse" reduce its importance to media, society, police and courts? If Mr. Hassan had beheaded a stranger on the street with the sword, would that have been reported differently?

What do YOU think? spark call for use of hate-crimes law in violence against women rid of the ‘toxic media,” opponents of domestic violence say threatened wife before slaying separatist, wife dead in apparent murder suicide Leshkevich coverage, Editorial

Here are some sites with facts about domestic abuse:
The 1 in 3 stat inludes passive abuse (verbal, mental, financial) as well as physical abuse.

The Nat'l Coalition Against Domestic Violence ( does cite 1 in 4 women (DV rates have been going down in the past 10 years--though with the current economic situation, many are predicting an uptick...), it does note that many cases of DV are NOT reported...for many reasons: immigration status, cultural norms, financial dependency, welfare status. . .
PLUS in many states dating violence is not reported as domestic, because they are not co-habitating...

More facts/numbers (national) DoJ number VAW 2005 stats non fatal per 1000 is 3.6 (intimate),6.7(date) 1.6 (relative)... female fatals in 2005 due to DV: 1181

3. And, to add some more to a full meeting Jo Ann Chamberlain will tell us about the Health Care for America NOW! campaign, and we'll discuss whether to join the HCAN coalition.

These above are US Stats...If you go to WHO, the stats range upwards to 61% (!) in a Peruvian Province can get global numbers

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Krugman's Book

Audrey suggested that we read Paul Krugman's latest book The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008 (Norton). It is reviewed in depth in the Feb 23rd issue of The Nation. The link is

Any other suggestions?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fetus Protection Acts: Women as Wombs Only?

Below is the web address for an excerpt from Our Bodies, Or Crimes: The Policing of Women’s Reproduction in America by Jeanne Flavin. (c) 2009 NYU Press.

Laws that forefront crimes against fetuses, do so by ignoring the mother themselves. As NY Rep. Jerry Nadler has pointed out, violence against women's funding has been cut by those who claim fetus protection is really a form of protecting women from (domestic) violence...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Women's Rights Are Human Rights

Anna Quindlen reminds President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton of Clinton's own words spoken at the UN Conference on Women in Beijing, 1995:
"If there is one message that echoes forth from this conference, let it be that human rights are women's rights, and women's rights are human rights for one and for all. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely—and the right to be heard. Women must enjoy the rights to participate fully in the social and political lives of their countries if we want freedom and democracy to thrive and endure."
Quindlen sums up the current state of the globe very succinctly: "A simple primer on the state of the world: women do most of the good stuff and get most of the bad. "
Its time for a change.

From Anna Quindlin's Newsweek Column

Friday, January 23, 2009

An Executive Order that is good for women & families

While it only received a brief one liner on the news this morning President Obama is said to be signing an Executive Order today that will lift the Global Gag Order (One of Bush's First Executive Orders) that prohibited US monies to go to any international family planning facilities that conduct, or even discuss (thus, promote ), abortions including referring women to other facilities that do or conduct any pro-abortion lobbying. (This was one of Reagan's Executive Orders, also known as the Mexico City Policy. George Walker Bush maintained this policy, Clinton did not).
This is great news for women and families.
While this gag order did not reduce the number of abortions world wide, it did hamper family planning and women's health delivery greatly. (See for example: )

Senator Gillibrand

That has a very nice ring to it...Congratulations to our newest Senator. Thank you to Governor Paterson.

Friday, January 16, 2009

On Selecting Senator Clinton's Replacement

January 14, 2009

Governor David Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Paterson,

We applaud your determination to confront the complex issues facing NY in these difficult times. As you navigate the challenges presented by the budget and economy, and manage the political pressures that accompany them, we offer you our support. We are also confident that you will continue to act on your often-stated commitment to equal representation by women and minorities in public office. The unprecedented national excitement that greets the impending inauguration of President Obama demonstrates the importance we place on the principle of inclusion of all who are well qualified, and our nation’s joy at its validation.

It's a great honor that NY Senator Hillary Clinton has been nominated to be the next Secretary of State. Her anticipated confirmation presents you with the opportunity and responsibility to name her successor. Our next Senator should be of unquestioned qualifications, highest ethical standards, and one who embraces the ideals and commitments to social justice that Senator Clinton has embodied.

With Hillary Clinton, the US Senate currently includes only 17 women—17%. Only 37 women total have served in the Senate, of more than 1600 since our nation was founded—2%.

As you know, we have no shortage of qualified, successful women statewide, of all ethnicities and from many professional realms, who contribute much to our great state. Our energetic and diverse population is a great asset. With many working mothers, female heads of household and women business leaders it is vital that we are adequately represented in our government. Yet, according to Eleanor’s Legacy, the US ranks only 69 th world-wide in women office holders. Surprisingly, NY is only 23 rd in the nation, not the standard of leadership that Democratic women, the majority of our party, have a right to expect.

Women's voices must be heard during the deliberations of the powerful. Democratic women should be better represented at all levels of government. The Governors of Illinois, Delaware and Colorado did not take the opportunity to add to that number.

We do not write to press for a particular candidate--many are qualified, but to ask you not to go backwards by replacing the first woman elected by the people to serve as Senator from NY with another man.


Ulster County Democratic Women
Julie McQuain, President

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

local HIV Prevention Center needs $$

From Jane Elven:
Because I know that you're a kindred spirit—that you truly care about people who's lives are more painful than most of us can imagine, I want to share the following letter that we received from "Betty" (not her real name), one of the women with whom we work at Planned Parenthood's HIV Prevention Outreach Center in Kingston. I must admit that I'm sharing this with you because I want to make sure that the work we do with people like Betty can continue. The New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute funds this project, and has reduced our budget 19.6% in the last two months. And, the cuts are retroactive, so that the 19.6% will have to come from the grant money we have not yet spent, which really means that we have to cut 39.2% from the remaining funds. Thus we'll need to somehow provide the next six months of services with nearly 40% less money. To do this we'll not only have to cut staff (there are only two full time and one part time staff now), reduce the number of days we're open to help people, and for the next six months purchase absolutely no supplies—not even condoms.

I'm not at all clear how to do effective HIV prevention without condoms, so I'm asking everyone I know for help. We need at least $10,000 to keep the doors open part time. $20,000 will let us continue to offer our vulnerable population the level of services we've provided for the last four and a half years. This means if 10 people donate $1,000 we could limp along (with fewer hours but at least we could give out condoms), and if 20 people do that, we could keep-on-keeping-on at full speed. Or, maybe 100 to 200 people could give us $100, or 200 to 400 people $50, or 400 to 800 $25, or any combination of the above. In these disastrous economic times it might feel good to know that even very small donations—$10, $5, $1—taken together can do so much for so many of our people who could soon have even less than the little they had a month ago.

If you're able to help please send a check as soon as you can, made out to Planned Parenthood. To make sure that the money goes to this project, please write "HIV Prevention Project" on the memo line . Then mail it to Planned Parenthood, 178 Church Street, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601. Because we need a lot of people to help a little, please feel free to forward this widely and wildly!

I know the letter below is a little long. And, even if you're not able to donate anything now, I do hope that you'll take the time to read it—simply because it's likely to warm your heart and give you hope not only for women like Betty, but for all of us.

From my heart to yours, thank you on behalf of those we serve.

Jane Elven

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fair Pay Act Passes in House

Now its the Senate's turn to finally do the right thing so that women are paid fairly, and there is a workable process for challenges to unfair pay. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Fair Paycheck Act this week.
Contact yoursenators and tell them how you feel. This website allows for easy access: